Rockcrawling

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Rock crawling is an extreme form of off-road driving.[1] Participants use vehicles anywhere from stock to highly modified to overcome obstacles (usually rocks). In rock crawling, drivers drive highly modified four-wheel drive vehicles such as trucks, Jeeps, and "buggies" over very harsh terrain. Driving locations include boulders, mountain foothills, rock piles, mountain trails, etc.

Rock crawling is about slow-speed, careful and precise driving, and high torque generated through large gear reductions in the vehicle's drivetrain. Rock crawlers often drive up, down and across obstacles that would appear impassable. Most vehicles used to rock climb are primarily 4x4s.

Rock crawling competitions range from local events to national series. A rock crawling competition consists of obstacle courses that are about 100 to 200 yards (91 to 183 m) long. Each obstacle is set up with gates, similar to a ski course. Usually a spotter (person who guides the driver) helps the driver through hard obstacles. Spotters may also use a rope to help prevent a vehicle from tipping over.[2]

Rock crawling basics[change | change source]

The vehicles[change | change source]

Jeep Rubicon Rock Crawling

Vehicles commonly used include Jeep, Nissan Patrol, Toyota Land Cruiser, Land Rover, Ford Bronco, Suzuki Samurai, International Harvester Scout. Also, vehicles like the Mercedes Unimog due to its portal axles and greatly increased ground clearance.[3] These vehicles are outfitted with custom parts. Power is usually not an issue, as rock crawlers typically lower their gear ratios in order to drive more slowly over obstacles without stalling the engine. These custom parts can include:

  1. locking differentials
  2. taller off-road tires
  3. upgraded suspension
  4. four wheel steering
  5. roll cage for driver protection
  6. engine modifications for increased performance, mostly torque
  7. lowered gearing in either or all of the transmission, transfer case (including often employing a second transfer case to reduce gearing even more), or axle differentials
  8. winches[1]
  9. body armour (rocker panels, tube fenders, etc.)
  10. beadlocks (locks tires to the rims for low tire pressures)
  11. long-travel shock absorbers, drop shackles, spring-over conversions (to increase wheel travel), coil-over spring/shock combinations, and upgraded control arms
  12. portal axles
Knobby mud-terrain tire

Oversized, low-pressure, knobby, mud-terrain tires are used. Most vehicles have a low-geared transfer case to make the most torque in the low speeds used for rock crawling. Suspension-wise, rock crawling vehicles sometimes have aftermarket lift kits installed, raising the chassis and increasing suspension flexibility. Highly modified rock crawling vehicles are less suitable for driving on roads and highways.

Building a dedicated rock crawler can cost a lot of money. For rock crawling competitions, getting a sponsor can help to cover some of these costs.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Sue Mead, Rockcrawling (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2005), pp. 6–8
  2. Patrick Hueller, Rock Crawling: Tearing It Up (Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Company, 2014), p. 17
  3. "Portal Hubs Explained | Do I need them?". Performance.com. Retrieved 12 May 2016.